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Ex-cyclone Esther bringing heavy rains to the north and could loop towards the middle of Australia, says BOM

By Carmen Brown and Matt Brann, Thursday February 27, 2020 - 10:33 EDT
ABC image
Ex-tropical cyclone Esther heading west towards severe tropical cyclone Ferdinand. - ABC

Ex-tropical cyclone Esther is tracking an unpredictable path across northern Australia and could loop towards central Australia next week, with the Bureau of Meteorology describing it as "a remarkable system".

Esther began its life on the Queensland side of the Gulf of Carpentaria, between Borroloola and Mornington Island as a category 1 cyclone before downgrading to a tropical low near Robinson River.

Bureau of Meteorology duty forecaster Angeline Prasad said the low was now expected to move into Western Australia's Kimberley region on Thursday morning.

"It is still possible for the system to become a cyclone off the WA coast in the Indian Ocean, but it may end up remaining a deep tropical low moving across the Kimberley and then curve back towards Giles and Yulara [west of Alice Springs] next week," she told ABC Rural on Wednesday.

"By the middle of next week we may see increasing rainfall, initially it will be over the western border and Tanami district."

While earlier forecasts suggested the low could re-develop into a severe category 3 or 4 cyclone off northern WA, that is now unlikely.

However, Ms Prasad said the system was quite unpredictable.

"What is interesting is this system is maintaining its structure as it moves west across the base of the Top End, which normally doesn't happen," she said.

"Most cyclones, especially weak cyclones, get destroyed by friction as soon as they move over land, so within 24 hours there's not much left.

"Esther has done something very remarkable, it's maintaining its structure.

"The reason it may quickly develop into a tropical cyclone again is because it's maintaining its structure as it moves across land so we cannot yet rule out that possibility."

Gulf cattle stations drenched

The system has already delivered much-needed rain to Northern Territory pastoralists this week, across the southern Gulf, northern Barkly, and Gregory regions.

Widespread falls between 150 and 250 millimetres have been recorded in many areas over the past 48 hours.

Jan Darcy from Mallapunyah Station, near Cape Crawford, said it was an ideal scenario of heavy rain with little damage.

"There's been a gusty wind, but nothing fierce, just lovely weather really," she said.

"We were waiting for this big one at the end of the season and this may not be the end of it either, there could be more.

"All our dams were pretty low so this would fill them up, and that's a big plus."

On nearby Kiana Station, Amanda Murphy has also been rejoicing after tipping more than 185 millimetres out of her rain gauge this week.

Mrs Murphy said it was a relief to finally see some decent rain.

"There's water everywhere and it's just beautiful," she said.

"We have a little creek next to our house, it's running, and the kids have been in it all day. So we're just loving it.

"I'm so excited at the thought of having a great wet season. The cows are going to be fat, things are looking good."


© ABC 2020

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